RAF Museum (while socially distancing)

The Royal Air Force Museum showcases some very impressive wartime memorabilia, uniforms and aircraft, spaced across six hangars. There’s also a wonderful kid’s playground, souvenir shop and onsite café.

Admission is free but you have to book a time slot in advanced as the museum is staggering entry and limiting visitors to adhere to social distancing measures. You can book here . Opening times can be found here

You’ll find parking on-site which you validate at the end of your visit:

0-3 Hours - £4.50 per vehicle

3-6 Hours - £6.00 per vehicle

Up to 9 Hours - £9.00 per vehicle

 

Social Distancing

There’s a quick bag check before entry and you’re encouraged to use the hand sanitising stations that are dotted around the site. It’s very easy to social distance, even within the inside spaces as the space is huge. You will find a one-way system in place but the floor stickers were a bit tricky to follow at some points. A few of the fly zone exhibits were also closed – not enough to put a dampener on the day though.

 

Our Verdict

From the moment we stepped out of our car the staff were incredibly welcoming (even if we did accidentally attempt to walk into the exit). They checked our bags and briefed us about the changes since reopening (like the antibac stations and one-way system) and we were off on our way, starting with hangar 1 which details the last 100 years of the RAF, including real life stories from those who’ve served in the RAF. As you’d expect there were various RAF vehicles, artefacts and most excitingly – miniature aircraft for the kids to play in while us adults soaked up our surroundings. The interactive flight zone towards the end of hangar 1 was closed for the most part but we were content with the remote-controlled flight simulators that we did have a chance to play with (not the VR kind, more of a console format).


Hangar 2 was similar to Hangar 1 but focused more on the emergence of aviation since the first world war. On the back wall there was a timeline of events and examples of where the RAF were utilised. They had two interactive screens that were preloaded with games – family fortunes, snake (ah, I used to love that game!) and guess the decade quizzes – which were a highlight for me because I love a good 80s-90s quiz!

Just outside of Hangar 2 is the picnic bench area and infamous playground complete with helicopters, aircraft and air control to run about in. It was a lot harder to socially distance in the playground but the kids were all trying, bless them. I’m not sure how often the equipment was cleaned but there was antibac stations by both of the gates. The toilets are also very conveniently parked in the café right next door to the playground (and need I say they were spotless!).

Hangars 3, 4 and 5 are where the biggest and bestest aviation exhibits are. In here we found an extensive aviation collection of helicopters, bombers and many more. It seemed as if pre-COVID visitors were able to climb into some of them but understandably they’ve had to close. Still, you’re able to get up close with some of the most impressive machines you’ll likely ever see.

This has to be one of my favourite post lockdown outings! All three of us were constantly entertained and it was a relatively cheap day out. It wasn’t a big deal that the interactive zones, VR and aircraft extreme close ups were closed because there still seemed to be a bit of entertainment for all of us. In fact, we’re planning to head back down when everything fully reopens.


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